The Absolute True Diary of a Part Time Indian ♪ A novel by Sherman Alexie
Why do you have to read this book? • Because you’re going to love it! It’s a story about a kid your age who has a lot of the same issues that you have. He’s a great, funny, and very real story-teller, and he draws pretty neat cartoons and comics. This is his diary. • This book will make you think. You will think about family, identity, and about what it is like to be a minority. • As you read this book, you are going to be able to look at your own lives and the things that are happening to you right now.
StereotypesWhere do they come from? How do they influence bullying and peer pressure? Goal-settingWhat sorts of goals do your set for yourself? DreamsWhat are your hopes for your life? Are they attainable?
Key Questions • What happens when a person leaves their home environment in pursuit of success? Do they give up or betray their identity? Is it really true that “you can never go home again”? • What makes for a good high school experience? Do you have to be happy for your education to have been a good one? • How do we, as humans, overcome adversity? What tactics do we use to get through hard times, difficult situations, and general injustice?
“The Black-Eye-of-the-Month Club” • Brainstorm a list of expectations that influence your daily life. Be sure to include familial, educational, racial, cultural, religious, economic, gender, community, relationships, beauty, etc. • List four physical problems Junior had because of his brain damage. • React to this quote "I think the world is a series of broken dams and floods, and my cartoons are tiny little lifeboats."
“Why Chicken Means So Much to Me” • Explain why Junior feels that his parents had to give up on their dreams. Be sure to cite textual evidence. • Define the term self-fulfilling prophecy. • How does this concept tie in with the novel? • Do you see traces of this in your own life and/or the world around you? • Who is Junior's best friend?
Create a drawing that represents who a person could have been if someone had paid attention to their dreams. This is an activity modeled after the illustration on page 12 of the book.
“Revenge Is My Middle Name” • Junior deals with many traumatic experiences in this novel. • Review these experiences from the first few chapters, and record them on the Coping With Trauma handout. • Writing Assignment: • Can your best friend be more important than your family? • What are your dreams of the future? • Who is your best friend?
“Because Geometry is not a Country Somewhere Near France” • What is located "approximately one million miles north of Important and two billion miles west of Happy"? • What hit Junior's heart "with the force of a nuclear bomb" and made his " hopes and dreams float up in a mushroom cloud"? • Create a back story about one of the two minor characters we are introduced to in this chapter: Mary Runs Away or Mr. P. ♪
“Hope Against Hope” • Junior is constantly dealing with the differences between “white people” and the “Indians” on his reservation. • According to Mr. P, why has Mr. P been unjust to Junior's people? • According to Mr. P , what are the kids on the reservation being taught? What does Mr. P tell Junior he must do? • Why does Mr. P call Junior a fighter? According to Mr. P, where will Junior find hope? • Look back through the previous chapters and begin to fill in the White vs. Indian Literary Log
“Go Means Go” • Why is Hope “White” to Junior? • Add some more quotes from this chapter to your Literary Log on White vs. Indian. • Why would the Indians on the rez be angry with Junior? • How do you feel about Junior’s decision in this chapter?
“Rowdy Sings the Blues” • What is Rowdy's reaction to Junior going to Reardon? • Literary Allusion: To what book does Alexie refer to in this chapter? How does the author use the allusion?
“How to Fight Monsters” • In this chapter we learn how racism can be internalized. Junior (a Native American Indian) views his contemporaries at Reardan to be better than himself. They are White. Hope. Opportunity. Money. • Overall, minorities suffering from internalized racism buy in to the notion that whites are superior to people of a minority. • What is the picture on page 57 trying to do? • What expectations does Junior have for himself?
“Grandmother Gives Me Some Advice” • Junior expects the White boys at Reardon to think the same as the Indian boys on the rez, and is surprised when that doesn’t happen. • How does our culture impact what we expect of ourselves and of others? • React to the following quote: "I might have impressed the king, but the queen still hated me?"
“Tears of a Clown” • Why was Rowdy Junior's secret keeper?
“Halloween” • What made Junior feel almost honorable? • Consider how Junior’s socio-economic status impacts his life, and how he views himself and others.
“Slouching Toward Thanksgiving” • What does Junior come to realize? • Who is Gordy? • Why are Junior's parents devastated yet Junior is proud of what has happened to his sister? • In this chapter, Junior says of his cartoons "I use them to understand the world." He then continues on to say "My cartoons weren't just for giggles; they were also good for poetry." Why does Junior draw? How does art help Junior? How is art like literature?
Write a poem Your poem should rhyme, and contain several poetic devices. It will accompany one of the drawings from the novel.
“My Sister Sends Me anE-mail” • Where is Mary living?” • What did Rowdy still respect? “Thanksgiving”
“Hunger Pains” • Does Penelope have an eating disorder? How does her expectations of herself and of beauty play a role in her behavior? • Why does Junior feel Penelope sounds like his father? • Penelope shares her hopes and dreams with Junior. How are they similar?
“Rowdy Gives Me Advice About Love” • Add to both of your handouts – traumatic events and White vs. Indian • What was Rowdy's advice to Junior?
“Dance, Dance, Dance” • This chapter starts with Junior saying “I was half Indian in one place and half white in the other.” (118) Discuss Junior/Arnold’s dual identities and how he feels he is navigating between two different tribes. • What does Junior say about lies? How does this pertain to the chapter? • What is ironic about Junior's polyester suit? • React to this quote: "If you let people into your life a little bit, they can be pretty amazing."
“Don't Trust Your Computer” • How does Rowdy respond to Junior's e-mail? • Why are the kids at Reardon repressed? • Gordy says "Well, life is a constant struggle between being an individual and being a member of the community." What is your reaction ? • Why were Gordy and Junior a "tribe of two?"
Searching, forever searching. Looking, but never finding. Day and night, my eyes roam the world. Searching, not knowing how to end. This search for myself. Endless Search by (American Indian poet) Alonzo Lopez
“My sister Sends Me a Letter” • What is Mary’s paradoxical situation? • Why does Mary call her new home the most gorgeous place in the world? • Coach says to Junior : "The quality of a man's life is in direct proportion to his commitment to excellence, regardless of his chosen field of endeavor. It's perfect for you." How was this true in this chapter? “Reindeer Games”
“And a Partridge in a Pear Tree” • What does Junior's dad always do when the family doesn't have money? • What was a "beautiful and ugly thing"? • Why do you suppose Junior kisses his father on the cheek?
“Red Versus White” • Why does Junior love his family? • Why does Junior call his Grandmother amazing? • What did the Indians on the rez stop doing to Junior after his grandmother dies? • Junior says “When it comes to death, we know that laughter and tears are pretty much the same.” How is this brought out in this chapter? “Wake”
“Valentine Heart” • What happened to Eugene? • How does Junior's father and mother cope with death? • What happens in Mrs. Jeremy's class? • How are we expected to grieve? Is this different in other cultures? Is there a right way or a wrong way? • How does Junior cope with death?
“In Like a Lion” • Junior has become a good basketball player. What two reasons does he give for this? • Reardon wins the game against Wellpinit. What are Junior's father and Junior's reaction? Why?
“Rowdy and I Have a Long and Serious Discussion About Basketball” • The title of the chapter may be considered an exaggeration, yet how is it true?
“Because Russian Guys Are Not Always Geniuses” • How many funerals has Junior been to? • Why is the chapter entitled "Because Russian Guys Are Not Always Geniuses"? Who is Tolstoy and what did he write that Junior disagrees with? • How did Junior's sister die? • What is a "grief shower”? • What does the illustration on page 213 represent in this chapter?
“Remembering” • What does Junior quote mean? "She went searching for her dreams, and she didn't find them, but she made the attempt” • How is Junior making the "attempt"? • What does the picture on page 218 represent? • How have gender roles and corresponding expectations presented themselves throughout the novel?
“Talking About Turtles” • Junior and Rowdy once climbed the biggest tree on the reservation. How does this story relate to the novel? • Rowdy defines nomadic, how does it relate to Junior? • Rowdy and Junior play basketball but don't keep score. What does this symbolize? • What is your reaction at the end of the novel?
Sketch to Stretch • Use a graphic organizer to choose one of the chapters that does not already have art. Skim through that chapter and select a sentence or paragraph that you feel is the most important and then “stretch” it with a visual representation.
Possible art-free chapters are: • “Tears of a Clown” • “Halloween” • “My Sister Sends Me an E-mail” • “Don’t Trust Your Computer” • “And a Partridge in a Pear Tree” • “Rowdy and I Have a Long and Serious Discussion About Basketball” • “Talking About Turtles”.
Stereotypes, Goals and Dreams • Junior discovers that he cannot let the stereotypes of society control his life; he will go where he wants to go and become who he wants to become - and his dreams to discover a life of success beyond the reservation cannot hinder the unconditional love and support of his family.